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Week 25 Big Ten power rankings: MSU basketball jumps into top 3

No. 24 Michigan State notched a crucial win over No. 18 Iowa.

NCAA Basketball: Iowa at Michigan State
Xavier Tillman and the rest of the Michigan State basketball team are on the rise.
Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

The Big Ten featured two great games Wednesday night, both ending in one-point wins for Penn State and Maryland.

Either game could have gone a different direction late, and that just goes to show how wild this conference has been this season. I expect things to get even crazier as the postseason approaches.

These are the teams with the biggest jumps and falls in this week’s rankings:

Biggest jump: Michigan State (+2)

Biggest fall: Rutgers (-3)

Let’s get to it. Here are this week’s power rankings:

No. 14 — Nebraska

7-20, 2-14 in the Big Ten, no change from last week’s rankings

What’s new? Nebraska lost by 19 to Michigan State on Feb. 20 and 12 to Illinois on Monday.

Reason for the ranking: Nebraska isn’t moving up until it wins another Big Ten game, plain and simple. This team is a hot mess.

No. 13 — Northwestern

6-20, 1-15 in the Big Ten, no change from last week’s rankings

What’s new? Northwestern has played one game since last week’s rankings, falling 83-57 to Minnesota.

Reason for the ranking: Northwestern isn’t good, and just like Nebraska, it isn’t moving until it wins another game.

No. 12 — Minnesota

13-14, 7-10 in the Big Ten, no change from last week’s rankings

What’s new? Minnesota lost to Penn State Wednesday, and before that, it beat Northwestern on Feb. 23.

Reason for the ranking: That win over Northwestern isn’t enough to move up in the rankings. Only Big Ten team has lost to the Wildcats (cough, Nebraska), so it’s not saying much.

No. 11 — Purdue

14-14, 7-10 in the Big Ten, -1 spot from last week’s rankings

What’s new? Purdue has now lost its last four games, most recently losing to Michigan on Feb. 22

Reason for the ranking: Purdue is getting beat by better teams. But that’s also an indication of where the Boilermakers belong in the power rankings — toward the bottom.

No. 10 — Indiana

18-9, 8-8 in the Big Ten, +1 spot from last week’s rankings

What’s new? Indiana took down Penn State 68-60 on Feb. 23 — a huge win for a Hoosier program looking for some late season momentum.

Reason for the ranking: I wrote last week how the win over Minnesota was a step in the right direction. The win over red-hot Penn State was an even bigger step. Indiana’s last four games (@ Purdue, @ Illinois, vs. Minnesota, vs. Wisconsin) are all winnable. Now is the time for the Hoosiers to step up.

No. 9 — Rutgers

18-11, 9-9 in the Big Ten, -3 spots from last week’s rankings

What’s new? Rutgers has now lost its last thee games. The Scarlet Knights lost to Penn State Wednesday, just a few days after falling to Wisconsin — both contests on the road.

Reason for the ranking: Rutgers is coming back down to earth. While the Scarlet Knights are talented, they’ve lost six of their last eight. This sort of downward trajectory late in the year isn’t ideal.

No. 8 — Ohio State

18-9, 8-8 in the Big Ten, +1 spot from last week’s rankings

What’s new? Ohio State fell on the road to Iowa but responded incredibly well by taking down Maryland on Feb. 23. The Buckeyes have won six of their last eight games.

Reason for the ranking: Had the Buckeyes taken down the Hawkeyes in addition to the Terrapins, they would have skyrocketed in this week’s power rankings. But the win over Maryland signals a huge resurgence. Let’s not forget Ohio State started 2-6 in conference play.

No. 7 — Michigan

18-9, 9-7 in the Big Ten, +1 spot from last week’s rankings

What’s new? Michigan took down Purdue by eight in West Lafayette on Feb. 22.

Reason for the ranking: No, the win over Purdue wasn’t anything to freak out about. But the Wolverines have won their last five games, taking down Michigan State and Rutgers in that span.

No. 6 — Wisconsin

17-10, 10-6 in the Big Ten, +1 spot from last week’s rankings

What’s new? Wisconsin became yet another team to hand Rutgers an L as of late. The Badgers won 79-71 on Feb. 23.

Reason for the ranking: Ever since the loss to Iowa — a game that featured a dry spell offensively in crunch time — Wisconsin has won five of its last six. The Badgers are slowly climbing up both the conference standings and power rankings. Their next game, a contest against Michigan tonight, will show where the Badgers are on the conference map.

No. 5 — Illinois

18-9, 10-6 in the Big Ten, no change from last week’s rankings

What’s new? Illinois took down bottom feeder Nebraska with ease 71-59 on Feb. 24.

Reason for the ranking: The Illini are getting things back on track after the loss to Rutgers on Feb. 15. With Ohio State and Iowa making up two of the four remaining teams left on the schedule, Illinois has a chance to make some noise before the Big Ten Tournament.

No. 4 — Iowa

19-9, 10-7 in the Big Ten, -1 spot from last week’s rankings

What’s new? Iowa lost to Michigan State in East Lansing 78-70, just one game removed from an 85-76 win over Ohio State on Feb. 20.

Reason for the ranking: The loss to Michigan State isn’t a bad loss by any means. But that’s a game Iowa should have won. The Hawkeyes fell victim to offensive woes late in the game as the Spartans caught fire. Iowa just couldn’t put Michigan State away. Oh, and Joe Wieskamp has disappeared.

No. 3 — Penn State

21-7, 11-6 in the Big Ten, -1 spot from last week’s rankings

What’s new? Penn State snapped its two-game losing streak by beating Rutgers 65-64 Wednesday night. Before the win, the Nittany Lions fell to Indiana on Feb. 23.

Reason for the ranking: Penn State’s almost blew it, but a win is a win. The Nittany Lions are still one of the top teams in the conference.

No. 2 — Michigan State

19-9, 11-6 in the Big Ten, +2 spots from last week’s rankings

What’s new? Michigan State got a much-needed win over Iowa on Tuesday. Cassius Winston looked sensational on both ends of the floor.

Reason for the ranking: Michigan State is back in the top three — for now. The Spartans have the toughest remaining schedule out of any Big Ten team, facing Maryland, Penn State, and Ohio State to end the regular season.

No. 1 — Maryland

23-5, 13-4 in the Big Ten, no change from last week’s rankings

What’s new? Maryland beat Minnesota 74-73 on Wednesday. Before, the Terrapins lost to Ohio State 79-72 on Feb. 23. It was a close game, but still one the Terrapins should have won.

Reason for the ranking: I still think that as of now, Maryland is the best team in the Big Ten. Another matchup against Michigan State on Feb. 29 will be telling, though.